As I sat looking at Michael’s report card tonight, I couldn’t help but smile at the Michael I recognize at home, all the places where he was written about as curious, social with peers and people in general, great navigating and sense of direction, whether on school grounds or when his school goes on community outings. I also heard about the polite side of Michael, which I do still see at home, though with full tween attitude is not always visible. 🙂 Teachers and staff love him and I couldn’t be more proud.
All jokes aside, these comments brought a smile to my face. What was harder to read were the comments about Michael’s challenges. Needs redirection to listen to others and wait, needs to slow down, needs support in certain subjects as he is distracted. As an exceptional mom who has tried so hard to work on these things with Michael at home and home therapy, I felt like I had failed too reading those words, failed to help him come further along at home so it would be easier in school to master material. I know the ADHD brain has a hard time settling. I know the medication he is on for focus, though it was helped greatly, will not change his ability to concentrate unless he makes other behavioral changes, which is slow in coming. He has made progress, but big lasting change takes time. We are all working on building our patience too as a family.
I cannot take responsibility for every choice and learning decision Michael makes, especially as he gets older. It is hard knowing what to tackle sometimes. I have wanted to do tutoring, though academics is not Michael’s strength. Then also, there were, and still are, behavioral challenges for him to overcome at home and strategies he needs to learn to cope with distraction and impulsivity. So why do I always go back to blaming myself? Mom blame is something so many of us Moms, particularly the exceptional ones, put on ourselves. If only I had tried that therapy. If only he had been at the activity. That skill would have been mastered. He would have been further ahead. He would have less challenges now in puberty where his hormones are all over the place.
I am learning to shake off my self-criticism. Michael is doing the best that he can with what he has got. I am sure there are things we can improve on, and plan to talk about these things with Michael’s team next week when we meet for parent/teacher night. It is not one person’s job to raise a child, any child. It is the child, the parents, the family’s and society’s job together. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and I remind myself of that on the days I feel discouraged that I have not done enough to help Michael get to the next level of his development.
Exceptional Parents, do you ever take the whole blame for your Exceptional Child’s academic or social difficulties? It’s normal as you want them to succeed and be happy. But it’s also important to remember, as they get older, that they need some autonomy in making their own strides forward and handling their own difficulties. Do what you can as a parent to encourage healthy learning all around. Then step back. Let your child find their pace and fly. Until next time.